Telluride Bluegrass Festival: Po’ Rambin’ Boys on the Main Stage 6/21!

Telluride Bluegrass Festival: Po’ Rambin’ Boys on the Main Stage 6/21!

The 51st annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival takes place June 20 – June 23. Po’ Ramblin’ Boys follow Larry & Joe, who open the show on the Main Stage, Friday, June 21.

Learn more about Planet Bluegrass at www.bluegrass.com.

Go here for more about the history of Telluride Bluegrass. (Back to 2009.)

And please scroll down to listen to Telluride Inside…and Out’s podcast featuring C.J. Lewandowski, the group’s founder.

At a time when most of us are distracted by technology and feeling overwhelmed by soul-shattering headlines,  straightforward honesty is of paramount importance. There’s something about the music of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys that cuts right through all that jazz and speaks plainly to the soul.

The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys (PRB) formed 10 years ago at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Sevierville, Tennessee, where mandolinist and singer C.J. Lewandowski was employed and would occasionally fill in when one of the live acts canceled.

After a beat or two, C.J. was approached by management to form his own group, which could serve as a full-time house band. He then recruited his friends Jereme Brown (banjo) and Josh Rinkle (guitar), as well as fellow distillery co-worker Jasper Lorentzen (bass). The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys were born.

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According to All Music:

“Over their first year-and-a-half, they played several times a week at the distillery, building up a catalog of traditional bluegrass songs and originals as well as a solid fan base. In 2016, PRB released their debut album, Back to the Mountains, and made their first out-of-town appearances at a festival in Canada and a tour of Europe.

“In 2018, PRB issued a second album, God’s Love Is So Divine, culled from traditional bluegrass gospel songs that inspired them.

“As their reputation grew, they were approached by legendary roots label Rounder, which signed them and released their third full-length, 2019’s Toil, Tears & Trouble, which was nominated in the “Best Bluegrass Album” category of the 62nd annual Grammy awards.

Laura Orshaw joined PRB full time in 2020.

The band’s latest release, “Wanderers Like Me,” will be out August 16.

PRB is at once exactly what you would expect and not at all what you would expect from a tattooed East Tennessee Bluegrass outfit. Regardless, the outfit takes pride in being ambassadors of their genre, and has brought their music from rural bluegrass festival stages to the rock clubs of Europe, with stunning results.

“The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys push neo-traditional bluegrass to the max. Their sound is at once exactly what you would anticipate and not at all what you would expect from a tattooed East Tennessee bluegrass outfit. They’re such a blast to watch,” said Grace Barrett, Planet Bluegrass.

“Rounder Records doesn’t release as many bluegrass albums as it once did, but when it does, we best pay attention. The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys have been one of bluegrass music’s finest under-heralded bands since their 2016 debut, Back to the Mountains.

Methodical to the edge of frustration, the band have taken time honing a keen approach to traditional bluegrass, infusing it with a large slug of country influence while staying true to the members’ East Tennessee and Southern Missouri roots. Their live performance is as impressive as one will encounter on the festival circuit…,” raved exclaim!.

“…Some people have compared the band to the Johnson Mountain Boys, and their youthful approach to traditional bluegrass supplemented by their own original material supports this comparison. But they definitely have their own unique sound. Mandolinist C.J. Lewandowski sings much of the lead vocals, and his vocal styling is somewhat reminiscent of Buck Owens. Josh Rinkel (guitar, lead, and harmony vocals) and Jereme Brown (banjo, lead, and harmony vocals) are strongly influenced by the Stanley Brothers. The combination of the three lead vocalists and harmony singers with contrasting styles provide nice variety in the sounds that the band achieves. Bass player Jasper Lorentzen provides a strong drive, much in the manner of Mike Paisley in his days with the Southern Grass. Laura Orshaw provides just the right fiddle kick-offs, breaks, and fills to suit each of the songs…,” said Bluegrass Unlimited.

“…Driving a 1965 GM tour bus, the fast and furious five-person band (whose members hail from Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota and Pennsylvania) isn’t trying to reinvent the bluegrass wheel so much as bring back that rawhide edge of Monroe’s original Saturday night and Sunday morning blend of bluegrass and gospel. The band did just that on The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys’ first trip to Mountain Stage on March 24, 2019, with guest host Kathy Mattea…,” explained NPR.

Po’ Ramblin’ Boys at Big Lick 2024. By Laci Mack.

For more, please check out TIO’s podcast with C.J.

And please note: CJ is part of this year’s American Currents Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for his work and collaboration with Bobby Osborne who passed last June. He will be releasing a collaborative album in honor of his mentor with the first single for the project coming out June 27: “Cora Is Gone” featuring Billy Strings, also a guest at the 51st annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

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